Sanctuary Welcomes Denis McInerney, Partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, as New Board President

New Board Members Include Garrard Beeney, Partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, Hon. Katherine Forrest, Partner

New Board Members Include Garrard Beeney, Partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, Hon. Katherine Forrest, Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Jessica Tuchinsky, Partner at Simpson Thacher

Sanctuary for Families, New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and related forms of gender violence, announced that Denis McInerney, a Litigation Partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, has been elected President of its Board of Directors, effective this month.

Mr. McInerney first joined Sanctuary’s Board in 2005 and served until 2010 when he stepped down to work for the Department of Justice, first as the Chief of the Fraud Section (2010 to 2013) and then Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division (2013 to 2014). He re-joined Sanctuary’s Board in 2015. Having served on a variety of Sanctuary Board committees over the years, including Audit (Chair), Development (Co-Chair), Finance, Nominating and Program, he brings a wealth of experience in Sanctuary’s work, as well as a deep commitment to helping survivors of gender violence.

Denis McInerney, President of Sanctuary for Families’ Board of Directors, said, “As Sanctuary celebrates its 35th year of service, I am awed and inspired by the legacy of my predecessors – the leaders and volunteers who have dedicated themselves to furthering Sanctuary’s mission of building a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right. I am deeply honored to serve as its President and am excited to work with Sanctuary’s incredible staff and supporters now working on the frontlines of change.”

Three law firm partners have joined Sanctuary’s Board of Directors, effective this month:

Garrard Beeney, Partner at Sullivan & Cromwell. Mr. Beeney is co-head of the firm’s Intellectual Property and Technology Group and is regularly recognized as a leading lawyer for his counsel to clients on intellectual property and licensing transactions and litigation matters around the world.  He is a frequent speaker at IP, antitrust and legal forums and often contributes thought leadership pieces, particularly in the area of standard essential patents and world-wide licensing. He is the 2019 recipient of Sanctuary’s Law Firm Leadership Award.

Hon. Katherine Forrest, Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Ms. Forrest was a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York and Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice before she rejoined Cravath in the firm’s Litigation Department. She is regarded as a leader in legal issues relating to technology, including the digital environment, high‑speed trading and content distribution.

Jessica Tuchinsky, Partner at Simpson Thacher. A member of the firm’s Banking and Credit Practice in New York, Ms. Tuchinsky represents leading financial institutions and investment banks with the arrangement and syndication of senior credit facilities, including acquisition, bridge and other corporate financings. She has significant experience in complicated financings in the leveraged finance, investment grade, and asset-based markets.

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families, said “On behalf of our organization and the thousands of survivors of gender-based violence that we assist each year, I thank our new Board President Denis McInerney for taking on this important leadership role and welcome new Board Members Garrard Beeney, Katherine Forrest and Jessica Tuchinsky. They are a formidable group. I look forward to their leadership, advocacy and counsel as we work together to help our clients find their way to fulfilling lives that are free from violence.”

Mr. McInerney takes over from William F. Gorin, Senior Counsel at Cleary Gottlieb, who served as President of Sanctuary’s Board of Directors since 2013. During Mr. Gorin’s tenure as Board President, he oversaw the search that resulted in new executive director Hon. Judy Harris Kluger; monitored Sanctuary’s growth from a $15.6 million to $26.2 million organization; and assisted in moving headquarters to a new lower Manhattan location. Mr. Gorin also led a strategic planning process which has resulted in the expansion of Sanctuary’s advocacy and outreach work; the growth of the Economic Empowerment Program and development of training alternatives to address the ever-changing challenges of poverty; increased survivor leadership; new legal programs for incarcerated survivors and survivors of campus sexual assault; and improved therapy treatments for children and families. Mr. Gorin will remain part of the Sanctuary family to co-chair the President’s Council with Stephanie Ferdman.

Judge Kluger said, “Sanctuary cannot grow and prosper without strong and dedicated board leadership. During Bill’s tenure, our programs expanded, and our organization thrived, allowing us to provide additional support to our neediest clients while also recognizing the hard work of our staff. He led our board with strength and commitment and was a passionate ambassador for Sanctuary to the wider public. We owe Bill an immense debt of gratitude for his extraordinary service.”

Photo: Sanctuary Executive Director, Hon. Judy H. Kluger, and Sanctuary Board President Denis McInerney

A Statement from Dorchen Leidholdt on the 7.23.19 Panel Discussion

Dorchen Leidholdt is the Director of Sanctuary’s Legal Center.  — I am not on Twitter

Dorchen Leidholdt is the Director of Sanctuary’s Legal Center. 

I am not on Twitter but understand from friends and colleagues who are that a number of accusations have been made against me over the last 24 hours. First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I had nothing to do with the police presence at last night’s panel discussion about the Gottfried/Salazar/Ramos bill to fully decriminalize the sex industry in New York.

Far from being a proponent of the carceral state, I began my legal career as a criminal defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society. For six years I advocated zealously on behalf of hundreds of criminal defendants. Many had survived egregious gender violence only to be revictimized by the criminal justice system, often by being arrested for prostitution or loitering for purposes of prostitution.

My advocacy against such misuse of the criminal justice system continued when I joined Sanctuary for Families, where I represent defendants and incarcerated people and advocate for criminal justice reform. My work on behalf of an incarcerated woman who killed her abuser and was wrongfully convicted of his murder led to my co-founding the Incarcerated Gender Violence Survivor Initiative, which I co-chair.

For decades I have advocated against the arrest and prosecution of people in the sex industry for prostitution and loitering for prostitution. I joined forces with the attorneys bringing the constitutional challenge against “loitering for prostitution,” and I helped lead Sanctuary’s efforts to pass the bill that would strike loitering from the NYS penal code. Sanctuary is currently advocating for two additional bills – one would amend New York’s rape shield law to protect people with prostitution convictions; the second would enable trafficking survivors to apply for vacatur relief for all criminal convictions.

Those who organized and spoke at last night’s event have significant common ground with those who protested it.

Effecting meaningful criminal justice reform requires ending the longstanding over-use and misuse of the criminal justice system while ensuring that those who have suffered racism, economic inequality, and gender-based discrimination and violence obtain the criminal justice protection they have long been denied. I hope that in the future we can unite to work to achieve these crucially important goals.

NY Must Do More for People in Prostitution, but Full Decriminalization Is Not The Answer

Our statement regarding the recently-introduced bill aimed at fully decriminalizing the sex industry in New York.

As service providers, advocates, and survivor leaders, we believe that people bought and sold in the sex trade should not be arrested, prosecuted, or criminalized. Though Senator Salazar’s and Assembly Member Gottfried’s bill (S.6419/A.8230) does decriminalize prostitution for victims of the sex trade, it also decriminalizes the most heinous and exploitative elements of this industry: sex buying and pimping. For this reason, Sanctuary for Families strongly opposes this bill. We urge legislators and advocates to dig deeper before supporting legislation that will promote pimping, sex buying, and the expansion of the sex industry.

Prostitution causes severe long term psychological and physical harm. An estimated 90% of people in prostitution in the United States are trafficked. Decriminalizing the system of prostitution would, in effect, sanction human trafficking because it would decriminalize all components of the sex trade. It would render illegal businesses, currently run by organized crime, legal. Brothel and illicit massage parlor owners would be deemed bonafide business owners or managers, and the profits they make off the sale of the bodies of women, children, the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups would be legitimized.

We are better than this. We must ensure victims are protected, but cannot do so while extending the same protections to sex traffickers. Unfortunately, this bill does not take this nuanced approach, and it, therefore, should not become law in New York.


Hon. Judy H. Kluger
Executive Director, Sanctuary for Families

Recognizing Jennifer Escobar & Rita Pascarella-Ronk: Pillars of Change Honorees

Jennifer and Rita are 2019 Pillars of Change honorees.

In anticipation of Pillars of Change on June 11th, we are highlighting Sanctuary Volunteers who will be honored at the volunteer recognition event! Learn More and Register for Pillars of Change.

Rita Pascarella-Ronk was introduced to Sanctuary for Families over 15 years ago through former Board President and the current Chair of Sanctuary’s President’s Council, Stephanie Ferdman. After being involved for a while Rita recalls, “The most memorable incident was when one of my friends was having a difficult day and asked me to dinner to catch up and talk. I was already committed to attending the graduation for clients in Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program and told my friend that she could come with me. To see the women stand up and be proud of each other and their accomplishments, my friend looked at me and said: “Thank you, I needed this perspective”. From that day forward this friend has never stopped volunteering and being involved with Sanctuary.”

That friend was Rita’s colleague, Jennifer Escobar! Since Rita introduced Jen to the Sanctuary network, they have been an incredible team of support for the agency and the clients we support. The two friends have moved jobs (together!) and have created and grown a multi-faceted partnership with their current employer, City National Bank. Over the past two years, Rita and Jen have organized multiple trainings for their colleagues at the bank that cover an in-depth overview of Sanctuary for Families and the challenges faced by clients. The wonderful colleagues within the bank’s Women’s Network have volunteered their time and skills, creating a customized, once-a-month, Financial Development series for the clients living at Sanctuary’s large, transitional residence, Sarah Burke House.

Sarah Burke House is New York’s largest transitional housing shelter located in the south Bronx. The shelter houses 58 families at any given time and provides supportive services to the residents as well as those who have moved out of the shelter through their comprehensive Aftercare Program. Lorena Zavala, a Case Manager at Sarah Burke House shares: “Jen and Rita foster a warm, welcoming, learning environment. This much-needed service is vital for our clients in getting back on their feet after shelter, and Rita and Jen have perfected making our clients feel comfortable and safe around a topic as daunting as personal finances. Their programming has made a huge impact on the lives of our survivors by making financial planning accessible, giving them the tools to progress toward their financial goals, and for some of our residents, providing the first encouragement and guidance to help them become financially independent. They even ensured diversity within the group of volunteers which made a big impact on the residents and helped everyone feel that their financial goals are attainable.”

Although Jen and Rita most often volunteer as a dynamic duo, they each have volunteered as individuals in “personal volunteer side projects” including but not limited to: resume writing, mock interviews, providing support to individual clients, participating as members of our Career Advancement Network which supports the clients within the Economic Empowerment Program, organizing volunteers to provide hundreds of Mother’s Day shoeboxes (thanks to Shoebox NYC) and participating in our gift drives during the end-of-year holiday season.

On one particular occasion, I had one of the women I was helping prepare a budget look at me with tears in her eyes and ask why I was doing this for her and I could only respond, “Why wouldn’t I?” Everyone deserves to be helped. She was so grateful, we hugged at the end of our meeting.” -Jen

“I hope showing up for the events shows the women they have individuals who are cheering for their success and are willing to help them.” – Rita 

“The idea that a small investment of my knowledge and time I can help make a positive impact in someone’s life is very rewarding.” – Jennifer Escobar

We thank Rita and Jen for their combined years of service to Sanctuary for Families. They both have provided an immeasurable amount of educational tools, resources, and encouragement to the lives they have touched, and our clients and staff alike are eternally grateful!

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on June 11th, 2019 to recognize Rita, Jen, and all of our volunteers for their dedicated service. Please RSVP for Pillars of Change today!